CONSUMER TO COMBAT
& THE MILITARY MIND
It was not so long ago that the term ‘tactical’ was only really used to refer to apparel, footwear and equipment
developed by otherwise nameless specialist technology and textile firms, who’s products were intended solely for
military use. You’d be hard pushed to remember more than the odd one or two names… like Kevlar, as an example.
Today, however, it’s a very different marketplace. Globally recognized brands like Nike (SFB), Salomon (Forces),
Arc’teryx (LEAF) and Under Armour are applying their expertise and product know-how, gathered through years of
consumer research and deep R&D, into designing and developing technically advanced products specifically for the
So, what was it that compelled hugely successful mainstream sports/outdoor consumer brands to delve into this
challenging new sector? Credibility is part of the answer, as are the commercial benefits of exploiting new markets, but
neither reason really, truly tells the whole story. The single most important draw for any serviceman or operator toward
your particular brands products or services is hidden deep within your brands DNA.
If your whole ethos, your reason to exist… your brand story speaks to the same spirit of adventure, exploration and
personal achievement that drives and motivates our servicemen, elite athletes and adventurers alike, you have a damn
good chance of meaning something to all of those people. Also, If you are already recognized as the ‘go-to’ brand within
your particular area of outdoor pursuits, it is entirely likely your products will be in high demand within military circles
because they immediately recognize your consumer brand, know what it stands for and hold it up as a trusted name.
Brands like Salomon, Patagonia and LEAF are known and trusted because they adopted a deliberate strategy, working
with the tier 1 elite at the earliest possible stages of product development in the testing, refining (and further refining)
of their products and technologies to be truly fit-for-purpose, and in doing so making them ever-more desirable in both
Adversely, brands like EO-Tech, Leupold and FNH USA spent decades carving out solid reputations in the military
space long before taking the decision to develop products that would appeal to the shooting enthusiast or consumer
marketplace. Each recognized the strong opportunities for a consumer offer and that interest had been driven, in no
small part by a reputation gained after years supplying, supporting and becoming a recognized, trusted brand in the
In each case, it was the ceaseless development, the drive to do more… do better and to achieve that informed the brand
story, the brand DNA, providing the crucial element to help each business successfully transition from civilian to military
and military to civilian. Each market dependent upon and feeding off the others success.
However, it is worth noting that, even if your brand is already so recognizable, so desirable that elite operators and
servicemen want to carry your products out in the field, there’s still an ultra-high level of expectation to meet.
These guys won’t wear the ‘standard issue’. They want the lightest, strongest, best made equipment they can buy.
They demand the ‘Elite’ offering.
As one of our Navy Seal colleagues told us recently ‘We want the coolest shit, we want the best shit!’
So, as a brand, if you hope to truly engage with the military/tactical audience there’s an incredibly high level of
commitment both commercially, technologically and culturally that you’ll have to display long before you can expect
true brand loyalty, trust and belief.
But once you get there, in meeting the demands of such a discerning audience and elevating your brand message,
brand personality and attitude in the eyes of one of the (literally) toughest crowds around, there’ll be no market you
IN THE RUN UP TO THE 144TH ANNUAL NRA MEETING
AND EXHIBITS IN NASHVILLE THIS COMING APRIL,
UNITED HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING THE CHALLENGES FACED
BY BOTH CONSUMER BRANDS AND TACTICAL/MILITARY BRANDS
LOOKING TO CROSS-OVER AND BUILD NEW AUDIENCES
FOR THEIR PRODUCTS OR SERVICES.
IN THIS, THE FIRST OF A TWO-PART OPINION PIECE
WE DISCUSS AND OUTLINE THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES FACED
BY CONSUMER BRANDS HOPING TO WIN OVER THE HEARTS
AND MINDS OF OUR SERVICEMEN, TIER 1, FIRST RESPONSE
AND LAW ENFORCEMENT COLLEAGUES.